Digital Distractions: Your Antidote for Magpie Marketing

Marketers and business owners today are faced with what can be an overwhelming number of choices when it comes to selecting the right marketing mix for their companies. Not only are the traditional advertising channels still relevant in reaching audiences, but the increasing toolset within the digital space has resulted in an explosion of platforms and activities that are in a constant state of tactical evolvement.

Too often, this results in what I call “magpie marketing,” where marketers flit from one bright, shiny tool and activity to the next. How many businesses or competitors have you seen launch a Facebook page, Twitter account or YouTube channel, post a flurry of content, and then move on to something else while the community they began languishes under infrequent updates?

Equally dire is the well-intentioned re-branding initiative, launched with a fresh, modern logo and brand campaign amid much fanfare, but which fizzles shortly after launch, when internal teams assume the world knows the message, loses interest in the brand campaign and shifts back to product advertising.

When I am approached by businesses suffering from magpie marketing, I find they often have one thing in common: they lack a business plan that sets forth the goals, strategies, objectives, and tactics that are important to their success. We’ve all read about the importance of a business plan in the pursuit of obtaining financing, but the business plan is also the foundation for any successful marketing plan. As Henry David Thoreau wrote, “It is not enough to be busy; so are the ants. The question is: what are we busy about?”

Introducing the G’SOT

For marketers, the value of identifying the goals, strategies, objectives, and tactics (or G’SOT, as coined by Forbes contributor, Mikal Belicove) can’t be overstated: they serve as a touchstone for focusing your marketing efforts and resisting magpie syndrome. Let’s perform a quick review of what each term means, and how it applies to developing your marketing plan:

  • Goal – a broad primary outcome
  • Strategy – the approach you take to achieve a goal
  • Objective – a measurable step taken to achieve a strategy
  • Tactic – a tool used in pursuing an objective

Note how each goal is approached by one or more strategies, which have specific, measurable steps identified; each of which are pursued by a tool put into motion. Thus, if you were the owner of a massage therapy practice, one set of G’SOT for your practice may look like this:

  • Goal: Make our relaxation massage service the leader in sales revenue within the local market by 2018.
  • Strategy: Position relaxation massage as a special event to be shared with friends.
  • Objective: Increase relaxation massage appointments by 40% by end of year.
  • Tactic: Through creative that encourages social sharing, extend special offer discount to prior relaxation massage clients through refer-a-friend group pricing.

The hierarchy above is just one set of goals, strategies, objectives and tactics that would comprise the business plan. Once a full set of G’SOTs are established, the formulation of the marketing plan becomes a much more focused endeavor. Better yet, a management team who regularly revisits the business plan throughout the year can easily determine if they are on track to meet the measurable objectives that were outlined during the planning and budgeting process. Course corrections may then be implemented as needed.

Thus, the business plan moves beyond being a static exercise of the finance team and becomes a dynamic tool with which to direct and focus initiatives – especially marketing. With a solid touchstone like the business or marketing plan, the distraction of magpie marketing can be reduced or eliminated.

Photo credit: Koshy Koshy

About the author: David Eldred is the President and Chief Brand Technologist of Sine Cera Marketing, a boutique marketing consulting practice based in Sherwood, Oregon. Sine Cera specializes in helping businesses create and maximize their digital presence – as well as offering a full range of marketing consulting services, including social media marketing, social selling, search engine marketing, website design, and mobile marketing solutions.